The federal government’s rejection of a Hollywood film that was scheduled to be shot in Banff National Park is disappointing, says an indigenous Canadian actor who is starring in the film.
“Hard Powder,” starring Liam Neeson, was scheduled to begin shooting around Banff this month, but Parks Canada rejected their permit, in part because it doesn’t like how an indigenous character, played by indigenous actor Tom Jackson, is portrayed.
In an interview with CTV Calgary, Jackson said the matter is a question of censorship.
“We allow … somebody in our world to have the hand of a censor that is representing the federal government, then I think that that has to be re-examined,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he had a lot of input on his role in the film, and added that he thinks there is nothing wrong with an indigenous character being portrayed as a villain. “Hard Powder” is a crime drama in which Neeson plays a snowplow driver whose son is murdered by a drug kingpin. His efforts to break the cartel sparks a turf war with a First Nations gang boss, played by Jackson.
“They made this decision and it disappointed me more than anything,” Jackson said, adding he’s “also pleased at the fact that the world is becoming more sensitive to issues regarding First Nation people.”
The block has irked not only actors and film producers, but many businesses in the Banff area that rely on the film industry for work and an economic boost. They say losing a blockbuster film could hurt them.
Brittany Aston, who works at the Grizzly Paw Pub in Canmore, says when Hollywood comes to town, business spikes. She said she’s seen actors on location around town on several occasions.
“I’ve seen Leonardo DiCaprio at the Rose and Crown, just hanging out, having a beer, having some dinner,” Aston told CTV Calgary.
Federal Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna said the rules surrounding park permits are fluid.
“Parks Canada’s priority is ecological,” she told reporters at a Calgary event. “It’s protecting our parks, it’s also getting Canadians into parks and I think we evaluate each opportunity on its merits.”
Jackson said “Hard Powder” is still going ahead but it won’t be shot in Alberta.
With a report by CTV Calgary’s Chris Epp